How Pay-To-Play Works In Trump World

Ken AshfordGeneral corruption, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Sunday tweet from Trump:

ZTE was being sanctioned by the United States for violating the US sanctions against Iran. And suddenly, Trump wanted that ban lifted.  and everyone was like, uh… that’s a very sudden shift in policy.  And since when do we care about jobs lost in China?

Even Trump’s advisers were surprised.

Trump responded to questions with another tweet:

If we are in the process of negotiating a trade deal, why is this being done NOW?  Or… why are we doing “personal” favors for Xi now?

And then we learn from the Agence France-Presse news service is that a Chinese company agreed last Thursday to build a theme park at a major Indonesian development project that is set to include Trump-branded hotels, residences, and a golf course—and that will be funded in part by $500 million in Chinese government loans.

Now it appears that this theme park was in the works for a while. In 2015, an Indonesian company called MNC agreed to work with the Trump Organization on the “MNC Lido Park” luxury residence/resort development. The development, which is near Jakarta, is set to include a number of Trump-branded properties in addition to other projects.  And in June 2016, the Indonesian company announced that it had signed a “letter of initial intent” with a Chinese company called MCC—yes, it’s a deal between “MNC” and “MCC”—to build a theme park at MNC Lido Park. This tentative deal included $500 million in loans from Chinese banks.

So, it doesn’t appear that we’re talking about $500 million in Chinese going to the Trump Organization directly. But it also obviously benefits Trump to lock in what had previously only been a tentative commitment on the Chinese government’s part to develop such a major component of a complex in which he has a financial interest.

Furthermore, the TIMING is odd.  Trump talks tough about anyone who supports Iran, but then — days later — lifts sanctions against a Chinese company that helped Iran?  And he does it just days after a China deal goes through that clearly helps his company?